Thank You, Brad DeLong…

…for pwning Jeff Faux and his protectionist agenda so very, very thoroughly:

Is there a way to interpret Jeff other than as a call to keep China a society of poor subsistence rice farmers as long as possible–keep them poor, barefoot, uneducated, and by no means allow them to work at any of the high-value manufacturing occupations we want to keep in the United States?

No, there isn’t. And this is what makes people like Faux – and John Edwards, and Sherrod Brown, and Byron Dorgan – so totally despicable.

Just How Phenomenally Edwards Screwed Up

This Lindsay Beyerstein article about the Edwards campaign’s attempts to recruit her to blog for them just floors me. She warned the Edwards campaign, at every point, of what would happen, and they just didn’t care. They didn’t think the religious right would pin everything Lindsey, Amanda, and Melissa wrote on them – even though Lindsey warned them that the right would. They were more than willing to let campaign bloggers keep their personal blogs – even as Lindsey warned them of how bad an idea that was. The whole thing shows a level of incompetence that is, frankly, the Bush administration writ very, very small. If Edwards runs his campaign this ineffectually, I can only imagine how bad his presidency would be.

Obama’s Electability

Jim Henley‘s right: David Weigel’s post debunking the “15% lie” (i.e. the theory 15% more people say they’ll vote for a black candidate in a poll than actually do) was unfairly neglected. I realized its brilliance on first reading it, but never got around to plugging it. To summarize Weigel (though you really should read the actual post), the theory is based on a misunderstanding of the polling in Doug Wilder’s gubernatorial campaign in Virginia in 1989, and a whole bunch of elections in 2006 contradicted it.
As Jim points out, this means that people like Robert Ford – who say that a black candidate like Obama can’t possibly win – are full of it. Moreover, it means that polls like this are awesome:

  • Giuliani 47%, Clinton 40%
  • McCain 47%, Clinton 39%
  • Obama 46%, Giuliani 40%
  • Obama 44%, McCain 40%
  • Giuliani 46%, Edwards 40%
  • McCain 47%, Edwards 38%
  • Remember that every time you hear people talk about how Hillary and Edwards are more electable. They’re not, and dramatically so.

    Do You Have Something to Tell Us, David?

    Did David Bernstein just say his relative bribed the IDF? Because it sure as hell sounded like David Bernstein just said his relative bribed the IDF:

    I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’m perfectly willing to say that from what I can discern, corruption in Israel is a major problem. Forget investigations of the Prime Minister and whatnot; it’s widely known among Israelis that one can avoid certain unpleasant military assignments if one has the right connections (as a relative of mine in Israel did), and that contractors often violate building rules willy-nilly because of “protexia” (connections) and bribery.

    Emphasis mine. Now, it’s possible to read this as saying that the relative just got some friends to intervene and didn’t actually fork money over. But considering the preceding sentence (and the paragraph before that), the context makes it sound like money was exchanged. Please elaborate, David.

    Oscar Live-Blogging

    8:49PM – Starts off with Pan’s Labyrinth winning for Art Direction. So far, so good.
    8:58PM – And another for PL for Makeup. I’m liking this.
    9:03PM – The Danish Poet, which looks like the coolest thing since Charley the Unicorn, wins for Best Animated Short.
    9:05PM – West Bank Story, which appears to be a musical comedy about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and thus looks totally sweet, wins for Best Live Action Short.
    9:15PM – Letters from Iwo Jima wins for sound editing. Which is important to some people.
    9:19PM – Dreamgirls wins for sound mixing. Ugh.
    9:38PM – Al Gore does a nice joke announcement. It’s hilarious that that rumor became pervasive enough to mock.
    9:44PM – Happy Feet beats Cars. Good for the global warming cause, I suppose.
    9:52PM – The Departed wins for best adapted screenplay. Quelle surprise!
    9:55PM – Wow, Tom Hanks just totally owned the sleezy announcer guy. Nice.
    9:57PM – Wes Anderson is kind of awesome. “Can you do a .357 with a bayonet?” If only, Wes. If only.
    10:03PM – Marie-Antoinette wins for costume design. Meh.
    10:14PM – PL wins again, for cinematography. If any film deserves this award, it’s PL. And this is adding up to be a great night for PL.
    10:21PM – Pirates of the Caribbean wins for visual effects. The writer of Photoshop is one of the winners, so I’m fine with it.
    10:30PM – The Lives of Others wins. Grrr. This award needs to be eliminated, since it clearly has no value.
    10:35PM – Jennifer Hudson wins for Dreamgirls. God, such a bad call. Not as bad as the foreign language fiasco, but still pretty bad.
    10:43PM – Documentary short goes to The Blood of Yang-Zhou District. Um, good. I’m still mad.
    10:48PM – An Inconvenient Truth wins. Also, the pope is Catholic.
    11:08PM – Babel wins for score. Only one more category left for PL to lose. God, I hate this ceremony.
    11:14PM – Little Miss Sunshine wins for original screenplay. Better than the other options, but still sucky. The royal screwing of Pan’s Labyrinth is truly despicable.
    11:29PM – Melissa Etheridge wins for “I Need to Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth. Thank God, because it was the only decent song of the bunch.
    11:30PM – Though when Etheridge messes up the adjective form of “Democrat” it pisses me off as much as when a Republican does that.
    11:32PM – And, as Ezra says, having an Aberfeldy song in a Diet Coke ad is ridiculously cool.
    11:35PM – A thought for the commercial break: the technical, short, and other non-interesting categories should be moved to a separate ceremony. And acceptance speeches should be banned. And the filler material and honorary awards should go too. The whole thing should be two hours, tops, is what I’m saying.
    11:39PM – What is it with clips showing the climaxes of movies? The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, and Resevoir Dogs have all had their endings ruined tonight.
    11:42PM – The Departed wins for film editing. The best of the possibilities, I suppose.
    11:54PM – Helen Mirren wins. Well, that was unexpected.
    12:04PM – Forrest Whitaker wins. Dang, I thought Peter O’Toole could have nabbed that one. Guess not.
    12:08PM – And Martin Scorsese wins. Finally. And the crowd goes crazy. Well, this makes up for PL‘s loss.
    12:09PM – Jesus, I have never seen a standing ovation this huge.
    12:11PM – Awesome. In the middle of an otherwise humbly average acceptance speech, Marty thanks those of us who have been wanting him tot get an Oscar for years. Well, you’re very welcome, Marty. You earned this more than practically anyone else who’s gotten it.
    12:13PM – Damn, Diane Keaton is a bad presenter.
    12:14PM – The Departed wins it. So it’s a real one for Marty. Mixed results, but it’s hard not to be ecstatic about Marty’s victories.

    Oscar Predictions

    In loving imitation of Dan Drezner:
    Best Picture:
    Will Win: Little Miss Sunshine. It doesn’t have pervasive profanity and violence (unlike The Departed) and it isn’t weird and foreign (unlike the other three nominees). It wins by process of elimination – it just isn’t objectionable. Plus, it won both the SAG and Producer’s Guild awards.
    Should Win (of the nominees): The Departed. LMS is great, but The Departed is both a great Scorsese movie (i.e. closer to Goodfellas than to The Aviator) and a Scorsese movie. And it just doesn’t count if he wins director and not picture.
    Should Win (period): Pan’s Labyrinth. I rewatched it since gushing about it here, and it just got better. A truly magnificent artistic achievement.
    Best Director:
    Will Win: Martin Scorsese, The Departed. He won the DGA award, which is a near perfect predictor.
    Should Win (of the nominees): Martin Scorsese, The Departed. Even if he made the cinematic equivalent of Metal Machine Music, I’d root for him. Instead, he made the cinematic equivalent of Raw Power, which makes the process easier.
    Should Win (period): Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth. Even if this is his only great film, he’ll have quite a legacy because of it.
    Best Actor:
    Will Win: Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland. I mean, duh.
    Should Win (of the nominees): Peter O’Toole, Venus. I mean, duh.
    Should Win (period): Sergi López, Pan’s Labyrinth. I mean, duh.
    Best Actress:
    Will Win: Helen Mirren, The Queen. See Forrest Whitaker.
    Should Win (of the nominees): Helen Mirren, The Queen. She’s been earning this for decades now. She deserves this the same way Scorsese and O’Toole do.
    Should Win (period): Ivana Banquero, Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s incredible that a 12-year-old can pull off something that extraordinary.
    Best Supporting Actor
    Will Win: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls. Damned if I know why. He did the same performance in Bowfinger, and he did it better.
    Should Win (of the nominees): Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine. Same career-capping reasons as Mirren, Scorsese, and O’Toole, but he also gave one killer performance.
    Should Win (period): Álex Angulo, Pan’s Labyrinth. Are you sensing a pattern here? Anyway, he makes what could have been a hagiographic role complicated and interesting, which leads one to respect his character more than if he were just a Christ figure.
    Best Supporting Actress
    Will Win: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls. Apparently the Oscars have turned into the Grammies. I’m sorry, but she’s clearly nominated for singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” and the Academy has no business handing out awards for singing.
    Should Win (of the nominees): Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine. Just as with Banquero, the ability to do a performance like that at her age is truly remarkable.
    Should Win (period): Maribel Verdú, Pan’s Labyrinth. It was a marked departure from her role in Y Tu Mamá También, and she pulled it off. The transformation of her quiet fury at the beginning to her violent passion at the end is intoxicatingly brilliant.
    An Inconvenient Truth will win best documentary (deservedly), Pan’s Labyrinth will win best foreign film (even more deservedly), and the ceremony will be far, far too long.

    The Yglesias Doctrine

    Sorry I’ve been neglectful this week; traveling makes blogging dfficult, to say the least. But while plenty of interesting things have happened that I haven’t commented on (if one counts Tom Vilsack self-immolating and dropping out “interesting,” which even for someone like me is pushing it), the most fascinating to me was Matt’s revealing of his foreign policy doctrine. Which, not too surprisingly, I disagree with quite strongly:

    As a general rule, though, I don’t think Beinart’s idea works. It treats the issue here as fundamentally epistemic — we need a way to check whether or not some invasion scheme is a good one. I think the issue here is structural. The problem isn’t that the United States is insufficiently virtuous to remake the world, but that no country is sufficiently virtuous to wield the level of power that would be required to remake the world. The exercise of power needs to be constrained by some kind of widely acceptable rules. I would propose that the use of force is legitimate when it is either:

  • In direct self-defense.
  • In defense of another country (i.e., we assist Costa Rica in repelling a Nicaraguan invasion).
  • When authorized by a UN Security Council resolution.
  • When called for by a relevant (i.e., the OAS can’t authorize an invasion of Burma) regional organization.
    Obviously, there’s no guarantee that all wars undertaken under those conditions will turn out well. There are always going to be considerations of prudence and efficacy specific to the particular case.

  • I think Matt (and Beinart) make the tragic – and all too common – mistake of assuming that American hegemony is defined by the mess the Bush administration has made of it over the past six years. It isn’t. The United States has a long track record – stretching back to Teddy Roosevelt – that has shown it to be, with a few notable exceptions (Bush II and Nixon come to mind) “sufficiently virtuous” to “remake the world.” A few examples:

  • Organizing the peace between Russia and Japan in 1905, preventing further major regional warfare.
  • Intervening in WWI to ease the bloodshed coming over Western Europe.
  • Initiating the Lend-Lease program in the early days of WWII, and helping destroy Germany despite the fact the only Japan actually attacked us.
  • Starting the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions, ensuring a harmonious economic order and creating an at least somewhat successful diplomatic forum.
  • Stopping British, French, and Israeli aggression in 1956.
  • Defusing the situation in Cuba in 1962 without resorting to invasion.
  • Negotiating the peace between Egypt and Israel in 1978.
  • Deposing – sans occupation – Noriega in Panama in 1989.
  • Protecting Kuwaiti sovereignty in 1991.
  • Re-instituting the legitimate government of Haiti in 1994.
  • Stopping the genocide in Bosnia in 1995.
  • Stopping the genocide in Kosovo in 1999.
    Etc. etc. One can argue that some of these interventions were not motivated by altruism – though that case is next to impossible to make in relation to Bosnia/Kosovo, the Suez case, the European theater of WWII, and the Bretton Woods institutions. But the consequences for the world (which I, as a utilitarian, consider the only relevant variable) have been so overwhelmingly positive that it is just plain dishonest for Beinart/Yglesias to argue that the US (or, in Yglesias’ formulation, any country) is incapable of using its hegemony wisely. We have, for the most part, and the world is significantly better for it. We shouldn’t extrapolate from Iraq that hegemony is evil any more than we should extrapolate from 1939 that appeasement never works; each case is the exception, not the rule.
    And maybe I’m just an unrepentant Benthamite, but Matt’s restrictions on the use of force are far too complicated. I say, if the use of force does more good than harm, go for it. Good includes national economic gain, preservation of human life, an increase of national security, the spread of democracy, etc. Harm includes bloodshed, economic damage, loss of international reputation, dictatorship, etc. A possible intervention into Sudan is justified not by any intrinsic qualities it possess; it just would save more people than it would kill. Similarly, the invasion of Iraq was not justified because more people died than would have otherwise, our international reputation was damaged significantly, we’ve wasted one trillion dollars, etc. So a harmful war could be started with UN approval, and a beneficial war could be conducted without it (see Kosovo).

  • Robert Reich is Dumb

    Not exactly news, but this is rather spectacular in its stupidity:

    Step Two: Encourage developing nations to raise their labor standards as their economies grow. The easiest way to do this is to require that they set a minimum wage that’s half their median wage. With this “minimum half median” standard in place, more of their people will share the gains from trade.

    Median income of the US: $46,326.
    What the minimum wage should be (at least) under Reich’s “minimum half median” formula (assuming 2,000 hours of work per year): $11.58.
    Actual minimum wage of the US, if, as is likely, the Democratic proposal for an increase is agreed to: $7.25.
    Watching Robert Reich inadvertently argue that other states should not trade with the United States: priceless.
    Hat tip: Greg Mankiw.